It’s no big secret that Ina Garten is my hero. I learned quickly that when you make one of Martha’s recipes, something always turns out just a little off, but Ina will never let you down.
I first met The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook in 2001. I worked at a flower store that also sold little hostess-esque gifts, and I remember being awestruck by this cookbook. I was in high school then and I didn’t cook anything, save for the occasional batch of Duncan Hines cupcakes or Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. Something about those glossy pages and the way the light hit the Kosher salt (a friend of mine calls it food porn) told me this woman was on to something good. While the store was slow, I would read every word Ina had written, and copy the recipes down by hand, since I wasn’t ready to commit to the $30.00 price tag.
Now that I’m a real-live grown up, I’ve collected all of Ina’s 6 cookbooks, and have a special place in my heart for each one. The secret to her cooking is in its simplicity. You can make anything in her cookbooks without too much prep or too many weird and expensive ingredients. Ina strives to bring out the depth of flavor in the main ingredient of her recipes. She wants each dish to really taste like what’s in it.
Most Sundays, I spend a large chunk of time poring through her cookbooks looking for inspiration for the week ahead. In the cold months, I turn to her soups and stews, and in the summer, I assemble her salads. I keep thinking I will do a little Julie and Julia with myself one day and cook my way through each of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (I’m not the first to think of this), so I can say I’ve done it all.
Last night’s dinner was Ina all the way:
Chicken Piccata (BC at Home)
Fresh Corn Salad (BC Cookbook)
Garlic and Herb Tomatoes (BC at Home)